Monday, September 22, 2014

The More Things Change, etc.

I've been traveling for the past two weeks, in touch with the world, but not focused on it.  So what's new?  Not much I'm not surprised to say.  I've seen this phenomenon before.

Go away for a while.  Take your attention off day to day happenings and when you return to catch up you find there's really not much to catch up on.  Trouble spots around the world are the same.  The same people are killing the same people.  Problems at home that we're intractable are still stuck in neutral or have become worse.  So welcome to the way it is.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Piling On!

A cottage industry is defined as a small and often informally organized activity.  Criticizing Obama has become a cottage industry on steroids.  It may still be informally organized but it’s certainly not small.  Maureen Dowd is obsessed with it.  Fox News is on it 24/7.  The think tankers have jumped in.  Politicians on all sides have added their infinite wisdom.

Tom Friedman is the only voice in the crowd who consistently stands apart from the sound and fury and takes a reasoned, sensible approach when analyzing what’s going on in the world.  He points out how complicated it all is and argues for calm, long-term thinking.  He is not an Obama apologist, but he is sympathetic to the argument that there are no easy solutions and precipitate action in the name of ‘do something’ is dangerous foolishness, not leadership.

I can find plenty of reasons to criticize Obama as President, both at home and abroad.  Certainly he has not communicated with the American people in a way that they can resonate with his thinking.  But much of the anti-Obama rhetoric is driven by spoken and unspoken political expediency, American exceptionalism, ideology and racism.  No way can he win with that crowd, so I make a distinction between justified and unjustified criticism.

Like it or not, and too many Americans don’t like it, America can’t control the world.  Too bad for us, but that’s the way it is.  This will be more obvious as the 21st century continues to unfold.  The anti-Obama mantra is that he wants to win by ‘leading from behind,’ and that isn’t the American way.  Our job has always been to lead from in front.  What too many people fail to recognize is that it is fruitless to yearn for a return to past glories, to want it to be the way it has always been.  This is, indeed, a new day.  Our wisest course is to see the world the way it is before it is too late.

Piling on Obama isn’t going to make this happen.

I'll be traveling for the next four weeks and may not be posting regularly.

Monday, September 01, 2014

What I've Learned Recently!

Some things I’ve learned recently:

There are no trashcans at Burning Man.  Those who attend clean up after themselves – and apparently do a great job of it.

Tens of thousands of (mostly) young people attend events to watch gamers play against each other.

A related item:  Colleges are beginning to award athletic-type scholarships to top-of-the-line gamers.

Medicare costs are going down, not up.

How huge underground caves are created.  (Look it up if you’re interested)

That the Roman Empire and the Han Empire in China were at their peak at the same time (200 BCE to 200 AD) and were similar in many ways even though they were barely aware that the other existed.

The older you get the more happiness you get from ordinary experiences rather than extraordinary ones.  (I probably would have guessed this was so, but never thought about it.)

College football as big business is not a new phenomenon.  It was rampant 100 years ago.

When to eat sushi with and without chopsticks and when to dip it in soy sauce.